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Rice Bill To Fund Lead Hazard Control Program Approved In Senate

Senator Ronald L. Rice, D-Essex, addresses his colleagues on the Senate floor.

Measure Would Appropriate $10 Million to Lead Abatement Program

TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senator Ronald L. Rice which would make a supplemental appropriation of $10 million to the Department of Community Affairs for the Lead Hazard Control Assistance Fund was approved by the Senate today by a vote of 24-9.

“In 2003, I stood up to a Governor from my own party to establish the Lead Hazard Control Assistance Fund, because I recognize that this issue is having a catastrophic effect on children, particularly in my community and older areas of the State where lead paint may still be present,” said Senator Rice, D-Essex. “Since it has been in place, the Lead Hazard fund has helped families remediate lead-based paint and has helped them make their homes safer for children. I cannot stand idly by while Governor Christie dismantles this program which has made such a difference in the lives of people I represent.”

The bill, S-2128, would make an FY 2013 supplemental appropriation of $20 million for the purpose of funding the Lead Hazard Control Assistance Fund. Programs paid for from the fund include lead abatement or interim controls; emergency relocation of households that include a child with elevated blood-lead levels; extensive statewide, regional and community-based education and outreach; training courses in lead disciplines such as lead-safe building maintenance; and identification of lead-based paint hazards and lead dust hazards through the distribution of dust-wipe kids and purchasing of analysis equipment for use by local health departments.

Since FY 2010, State budget support for the Lead Hazard Control Assistance Fund has been virtually non-existent. In FY 2010, the State zeroed out support for the Fund as a result of the recession, and in FY 2011 – Governor Christie’s first budget – $2 million in funding was restored. However, the appropriation went back down to zero in FY 2012 and FY 2013. Additionally, the Governor line-item vetoed a $2 million appropriation that was passed by the Legislature in the FY 2012 Budget.

Senator Rice noted that the Lead Hazard Control Assistance Fund is supported by the collection of a $20 fee charged per unit inspected in a multiple dwelling concerning lead hazard control work; a minimal tax imposed on the sale of paint, and penalties paid from violations of the Hotel and Multiple Dwelling Law. However, as a result of the underfunding of the lead paint abatement program, these revenues have instead lapsed into the General Fund.

“The Lead Hazard Control fund has a dedicated funding source, and a dedicated purpose of keeping older homes and apartment buildings in New Jersey safe for occupancy,” said Senator Rice. “We cannot turn our backs on this program now, while people are struggling in New Jersey with one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation and many people cannot afford the cost of lead abatement.”

The bill now heads to the Assembly for consideration.